High school student Brittany McMillan learned all about the power of Facebook in 2010 when she launched the idea of Spirit Day which inspires people to wear purple or change their Facebook photo to purple in support of LGBT youth and to stand up against bullying.
When a Spirit Day event Facebook page was flooded with anti-gay comments and violent images, the social network company worked with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation to solve the problem.
Over the weekend, it was McMillan who was chosen by GLAAD to present Facebook with a Special Recognition Award at the last of its three 2012 media award ceremonies at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco.
‘GLAAD found Spirit Day on Facebook, amplified my voice, and now we are changing the world,’ McMillan said. ‘Facebook is a huge part of my life and my generation’s life, and I definitely wouldn’t be standing up here without it…They also suggest that LGBT teens stick up for others, think twice before posting, reach out whenever they feel overwhelmed, and remember that they are not alone in their struggle.’
Facebook’s Sara Sperling, who accepted the award on behalf of their company with co-worker Andrew Noyes, shared with the crowd about two gay women from the United Arab Emirates who found each other on Facebook.
When their families found out they had few options which Sperling said ‘was not be together [or to] stay together and risk getting beaten or killed.’
The women chose to flee the country and relocated in Oakland, California, and their asylum case is being handled by the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
Other notable LGBT actions by Facebook: Gives users the options to select ‘In a Civil Union’ and ‘In a Domestic Partnership’ for their relationship status; and adding Help Center content that provides guidance on how users can help an LGBT person who has posted suicidal material.
Below is video of the awards presentation to Facebook: